A Bayside man was among five Queens residents arrested Friday in an illegal untaxed cigarettes trafficking bust, the Nassau County district attorney said.
Fei Yin, 24, of Bayside, was charged Friday with evasion of cigarette and tobacco product tax, Nassau County DA Kathleen Rice said. If convicted, he could face up to four years in prison.
Three men from Flushing - Maerong Gao, 57, Wai Ming Lui, 46, and Sauha Candy Lam, 35 - and another from Elmhurst - Duan Jun Zhang - were also arrested, the DA said.
"We caught these defendants red-handed, trafficking untaxed cigarettes and cheating taxpayers out of millions in lost revenue for health care, education, job training and other essential services," Rice said.
The bust took place following a year-long illegal trafficking investigation and resulted in the seizure of more than 100 cases of cigarettes and $958,000.
The operation, which began in July 2011, involved an undercover police officer allegedly selling hundreds of cases of untaxed cigarettes, each of which contained 60 cartons, to the five defendants from a storage unit in Garden City, the DA said. The five defendants paid a total $2.3 million for 1,200 cases worth more than $6.4 million.
The defendants are then alleged to have transported the cigarettes to residences in Queens and Brooklyn and sold them to local retailers or on the street.
"Cigarette smuggling to evade state and local taxes is a multimillion dollar industry," Queens DA Richard Brown said. "It cheats taxpayers who must dip into their own pockets to pay higher taxes. And it cheats the government as well by fueling an underground economy, which does not pay much needed city and state taxes.